Tramps, hoops and a wee bit of track; just another day
Am off later today to cover trampoline and if I see one of the competitors show up in a Chicken costume carrying a couple of basketballs, I know who the gold medalist will be.
Of course, I was happy.
And, frankly, a bit nervous.
You know we’re not supposed to cheer except for our story (I guess I could say it was a better story the way it played out so cheering was allowed) but when the women’s basketball team won, I pretty proud of them.
You know how I feel: It’s a good group of dedicated women coached by an excellent staff and run by a program that’s finally getting fully turned around.
And when they qualified for the quarters, I really do think it was some kind of watershed moment.
Now, they’re likely to get drilled if they meet the States – USA hasn’t lost in something like 37 straight Olympic games – and Australia’s going to be incredibly tough in the final preliminary round game.
But I agree with the likes of Kim Smith and Chelsea Aubry that this program’s success – two World Championships and a top-8 Olympic finish – could do immeasurable things for the growth of the game in Canada among young women.
We know where the men’s program is headed – which is up – and now that the women have established a benchmark, it’ll be up to the men to match it. They haven’t – I always said it’d be the 2016 Olympics or maybe the 2018 worlds before they’re totally legit on a global stage – but maybe now the young men say, ‘hey, we need to get going, the women are better than us.’
And talking to Wayne Parrish after the game, he pointed to Rio as a true turning point.
“Our young women are ranked third in the world, our young men are ranked fifth in the world. When you put all that together with the performance that we see and the resilience we see from the women this year, you have a helluva combination for 2016.”
I’ve been around Canada Basketball for more than a couple of decades now – going back to the late, great Jack Donoghue and I honestly cannot think of time when both the men’s and women’s programs were so promising.
Not bad, eh?
Seriously, a song about Manchester by Davy Jones and that’s where the women’s football team plays its semifinal?
I don’t have anything better today and there probably isn’t much more obscure.
Things I never thought I’d say:
“Does anyone have a scoring table for heptathlon handy?”
Hey, Londoners! Come on home. Really.
Was talking to my new buddy who has a relative in Markham and who runs the little mom and pop news agent by my hotel this morning and he confirmed what I had thought.
The city is relatively empty.
The business people are working from home, a whole slew of locals have fled, the students are gone and, outside of the Olympic people, there are no tourists.
And, sure, it’s pretty cool for the venues and some of the hotspots but the small local guys – like my pal – are getting killed.
Not sure that’s what they had in mind when they got these Games.
“Never seen it so quiet,” is how he put it.
So come on back, I’ll stand out a round some night. It’s kind of fun here.
The public address announcer at the Olympic Park basketball venue never shuts up and the only thing worse than the timeout hostess asking 8,000 or so fans to do the wave is asking them to do the wave while making “as much noise as you can.”
Note to Marriott:
Yes, every hotel should have a 15-foot high stone thing in the lobby.
On second thought, if you come around the corner after a night out and run into this thing, you might be a tad startled.
Thanks to The Swan (one of the Bars In An Alley) for staying open until midnight on Friday, it was nice to get one in before the bell.
And I do think that’s a much more civilized way to signal last call; they ring bells quite loudly to let you know it’s time to go home, far better than forcing servers to wander around yelling at patrons.
(I’m told that’s what happens in Canada; I’m rarely out at the time).
But this whole closing at 11 during the week and extending the hours to 12 on Friday and Saturday is mystifying.
Been here a week and a half almost and have yet to eat at the McDonald’s here at the Main Press Centre.
Somewhere, someone must be proud of me.
Of course, haven’t really eaten that much of anything but am growing quite tired of the beef and gerkin or egg salad or aged cheddar and various relish pre-fab sandwiches they have at all the venues.
I can just picture some huge factory on the outskirts of the city where thousands of zombie-like workers are slapping sandwiches together 24 hours a day to feed starved writers.
A true Olympic experience.
So, 80,000 people at the track on 10 o’clock Friday morning, another 80,000 there Saturday night, a jam-packed basketball arena for Canada-Brazil women, standing room only crowds at beach volleyball every session I was at and a record-setting audience up in Newcastle for the women’s football yesterday.
Think some folks have to go back and re-write those ticket rip jobs from a few days ago.